07/04/2008 12:00AM

Irish classics to be uprooted


Delays in the construction of a new grandstand at the Curragh, as well as the development of the surrounding area, will result in the closing of the Irish racecourse from July 26, 2009, until the opening of the 2011 season in March of that year, the Irish Turf Club announced Friday.

As a result, the 2010 Irish Derby will be run at Leopardstown. All of the other meetings scheduled for the Curragh during that period will be assigned to other racecourses by Horse Racing Ireland at a later date. Those meetings will include all of the other Irish classics in 2010: the Irish 2000 Guineas, the Irish 1000 Guineas, and the Irish Oaks.

Group 1 races like the Irish St. Leger, the Moyglare Stud Stakes and the Phoenix Stakes, all of which are run in August or September, will be switched away from the Curragh in both 2009 and 2010.

Plans for a new Curragh grandstand and the redevelopment of roads and a hotel adjacent to the track hit a snag when the planning board that must approve all of the changes took much longer in its deliberations than originally envisioned. The Turf Club thus decided to close the Curragh for a 20-month period rather than try to run races in the midst of construction.

None of the Irish classics, including the Irish Derby, which was first run in 1866, has ever been run anywhere except at the Curragh.

Thirty miles west of Dublin, the Curragh is the headquarters of Irish racing and bills itself as the "Home of the Classics."